‘Hey!’ I stood a little taller and waved my arms at my friend who I just spotted across the car park.
She looked up, squinting in the sun. Her arm rose upwards briefly, she gave a tight smile and slid into her car without saying anything and drove off.
My heart sank to my feet and my brain went into overdrive. ‘She hates me.’ I thought.
And I continued to think about it. All day.
I wracked my brain going over our last interaction, trying to remember if I said something to upset her. Our message history showed no signs of anything untoward. This friend of mine is a particularly non-confrontational and sweet person so it’s highly unlikely I said anything awful about her to someone else. I had no idea what I’d done wrong.
Two days later I saw her in the car park again. She bounded over with a huge smile on her face chatting about a book she just read that she thinks I’ll love and she’ll bring it next time she comes over.
My body relaxed with relief. She wasn’t mad at me at all. Thank goodness.
So why did I waste 48 hours panicking about it?
I started worrying about people being mad at me when I was in about year 2 and I’ve never really kicked the habit.
Someone sends a slightly less than gushing text message? Mad at me. Doesn’t say hi when they see me in the street? Mad at me. Doesn’t invite me to their get together? Extremely, irrevocably mad at me and is 100% going to bitch about me to everyone when I’m not there.
I’m certain I’m not alone in this. I’ve been asked on the reg if I’m mad at people and 99% of the time I’m not and utterly perplexed as to why the person thought that in the first place. But then I think like that all the damn time. It’s stupidly ironic.
So what the hell do we do about it? Especially if we don’t want to exist in the world feeling like everyone is secretly trying to kick us out of the cool group.
Here are a few ways you can stop feeling like everyone is mad at you.
- Do a behaviour audit
Check out The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – it’s a great read that outlines the four personal agreements you make with yourself that are supposed to grant you personal freedom. I bloody love a self-help book and this one is a goody (it’s VERY dry but the principles are on point). Here are the 4 agreements in a nutshell.
Speak with integrity – this means avoiding gossip, speaking the truth and saying what you mean. Personally, as someone prone to a bit of exaggeration and drama I find this one the most difficult of the personal agreements so I’ve simplified it to ‘not talking shit about anyone’. Serves me well.
Don’t take anything personally – It’s a harsh reality but 99% of the time, no one is thinking about you. For real. Most people don’t give a toss what you do. Isn’t that a freeing thought?
Don’t assume – Ask questions and get clarification. ‘What did you mean when you said that?’ or ‘Is there something I can do to make this easier for you?’ If you’re regularly in the habit of quietly seething at someone and not telling them that they pissed you off, it *might* be one of the reasons why you think other people are doing that to you too. Reap what you sow – and try not to quietly be mad someone if you can address the issue and move on. Internalising is a really bad idea. I swear it screws with your digestion and makes your skin go bananas. I’m not even kidding, undealt with anger is like a virus. Gross.
Try hard – Really, honestly try hard to not be a shit person. If at the end of most days you can hop into bed and think ‘I wasn’t an epic dick today’ you’re doing really well and you can probably rest easy in the knowledge that no one is mad at you.
2. Examine the eyebrows
I found this study fascinating and a perfect example of how humans can misinterpret literally everything. Dr Schermerhorn rightly points out that just because a person isn’t bursting with fruit flavour and glitter unicorns doesn’t mean they’re secretly plotting your death. It might be all in their eyebrows. According to this study low brows and brows that slope in a V shape have a tendency to exude a resonance of anger, often when there is no anger present. So next time you’re in line at the supermarket and you feel like your mate just brushed you off, check out their face. They may be the owner of anger eyebrows or resting bitch face. As an owner of the latter (bitch face McGraw over here) I do try to give allowances to people who have similar afflictions.
3. Admit that maybe you did something wrong
This is the very bottom of the barrel here but *maybe* you did something wrong and the best thing to do is to confront it. Ask if there’s something bothering them. Don’t ask if they’re mad at you – ask if they’re okay. That opens the conversation up for them to talk to you if they want to OR tell you about something else that’s bothering them. And yeah, conversations like this are super icky. No one likes them. But it’s better to just nip it in the bud than to let it fester.
Bottom line? 99% of the time no one is mad at you and if they are, 99% of the time they’ll get over it.
So go live your life and don’t waste time ruminating about weird interactions. That person that seemingly brushed you off in the car park this morning might just have angry eyebrows.
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